Solar energy systems and a lease amendment topped the Liberty County Board of Commissioners mid-month meeting Feb. 21. The commissioners also sent condolences to Chief Finance Officer Kim McGlothlin after the loss of her mother.
The commissioners kicked off the mid-month meeting by approving an amendment to the lease agreement for the Liberty County Re-Entry Coalition. The amendment included having utilities added to the rent and also extending the lease to 2020.
“Basically the building was in bad shape, but they made some improvements to get it back up and running,” County Administrator Joey Brown said. “This just extends the agreement another year and also authorizes the coverage of the utilities.”
County Attorney Kelly Davis brought back the solar energy systems ordinance before the BOC. The ordinance was introduced to the commissioners at the regular meeting in early February. The proposed ordinance is an adaptation to the State Modeled Code and both Walthourville and Riceboro have adopted the ordinance.
“You can take some comfort knowing that it is a standardized form that has been pretty well vetted by the solar industry, local governments and stakeholders,” Davis said.
One of the biggest concerns amongst the BOC was the decommission of the solar panels in the future. Questions were raised about who would be responsible if the property owner failed to decommission the panels and also the taxation on the inventory.
“This zoning is really limited to zoning and land use, like where they should be placed and what conditions,” Davis said. “What we are really concerned about is the large ray solar farms.”
Davis explained the ordinance does have the requirement for anyone who applies for the permit to provide a detailed decommission plan. The plan would include the cost of removal, what components would be removed and how they would be disposed of.
“So we are the enforcer?” Liberty County Board of Commissioner Chairman Donald Lovette asked.
Davis explained that the county would indeed be the enforcer in the decommission of the solar panels, but if an owner abandoned the project, they would send a notice and schedule a hearing. If the owner still failed to decommission the solar panels, then the county could come in and decommission it themselves and salvage the profits from the panels.
“I don’t want the commissioners 30 years down the line to ask what were they thinking back in 2019 when they approved this,” Lovette said.
It was agreed that Davis would continue working on the ordinance before bringing it back before the commissioners.
In other county business, a resolution was proposed for the abolishment of the Liberty County Fire Authority, an ordinance revision to water resources was discussed and the BOC approved an alcohol license to a store in Midway.
The commissioners closed the meeting by going into executive session to discuss personnel matters and land acquisition. No action was taken when the commissioners exited executive session.